Try This Oil Trick To Keep Starchy Pasta From Sticking Together

Starchy pasta is never easy to deal with; not only are the strands clingy but the starch makes the pasta clump together which makes it harder to cook. This unusually happens with leftover pasta because when pasta is cooked, the starch molecules on the surface of the noodles absorb water and they become gelatinous and sticky. The surface of cooked pasta tends to be slightly rough and overcooking and improper storage can make it worse.

The solution to this? Olive oil! An easy olive oil hack can help you keep starchy, clingy pasta separated. Olive oil coats the surface of cooked pasta and creates a protective barrier that reduces the chances of noodles adhering to each other. Not to mention, it adds richness and depth of flavour to the pasta and also helps retain moisture within the pasta, preventing it from becoming dry or brittle during storage.

Use Olive Oil Before Storing

This oil trick is super simple. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander, but do not rinse it with cold water. Rinsing removes surface starch, which is essential for helping the olive oil adhere to the noodles.

Transfer the drained pasta to a large mixing bowl while it is still hot, as the residual heat will help the olive oil evenly coat the noodles. Drizzle a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil over the hot pasta. Use enough olive oil to thoroughly coat each strand. Gently toss the pasta with the olive oil until all strands are evenly coated. 

Once the pasta is thoroughly coated with olive oil, allow it to cool to room temperature before storing. This cooling period allows the olive oil to set, forming a protective layer over the noodles which will prevent pasta strands from sticking.

Remember to cook it al dente

Overcooking is a big reason for starchy pasta so not it’s best to cook your pasta al dente. Al dente is an Italian term meaning "to the tooth," and it mainly refers to pasta that is cooked until it is firm. It’s a good way to avoid overcooking as you need to cook it for a shorter duration than the package instructions suggest, so the noodles retain a firm texture.

Al dente pasta has a nice chewiness that enhances the overall eating experience. The slight resistance in the centre is how you know it’s cooked al dente. Al dente pasta releases less starch into the cooking water compared to overcooked pasta. This reduced starch content helps prevent the noodles from sticking together when mixed with other ingredients or stored for later use.